Consistency

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PC: Marion Michele

Consistency.

I’ve been meaning to write about this theme in my life since March, but I’ve been putting it off. Because to write about it is to claim it and to claim it is to live by it, and I haven’t been feeling strong enough to live consistently in most things.

I say I want to lose weight and a week later I’m binge eating on chips and margaritas. I say I want to read a book or two and except for the GRE haven’t picked up a book in months. I say I want to raise money for human trafficking victims and I’m too scared to keep asking the people who said they would donate.

Consistent in my work. Consistent in my friendships. Consistent in my training for triathlon this summer. Consistent with my relationship with God- I feel like I’ve been a roller coaster more than anything… Nothing consistent in my actions or attitude except this nagging thought that I have to get back on track to what is important and STAY TRUE to that course.

So I’m pushing and pulling. Trying to grasp at any semblance of order in my career, health, and attitude with changes in relationships, and especially with God.

Consistency is what I noticed brought me from running 11:00 min miles in snowy February, to 9:45 min miles in rainy April, to 8:50 min miles in humid June.

Consistency in prayer is what I know makes my emotional imbalance and fear sober and pure minded again.

Consistency in showing up at work, and doing the best that I can any given day is what I know got me a 3rd promotion in less than 2 years as a Sports Producer.

Consistency is what is getting me through relearning Math for the GRE that I haven’t thought about since 10th grade…

Consistency is key. It is key to success. It is key for getting through each day. It is key for proving I am capable, even when I “don’t feel like it.” And believe me, I don’t most days. But by remaining consistent to show up during the hard times, I know I’m succeeding, even if I don’t see the fruit right away.

I know it works. The reality is, though the process has been slow, I have seen the fruit of remaining consistent to the important things, letting go of that which distracts from my goals.

SO by FINALLY writing this blog post, I am claiming this word publicly to make it a habit and pattern in my actions and ultimately a part of my lifestyle in all areas of my life right now, not just when it is convenient.

Consistency to keep putting one foot in front of the other for this triathlon on days and nights I don’t want to work out, when I say the wrong thing in meetings, or when I want to go out with friends and instead know I should study.

In the end, I think that is what makes the fruit so beautiful. It is not that these goals are easy, or that I’ve done a good job at keeping them a priority- but that I can in action, word, and deed go back to remaining faithful and true to the important things.

The road is long, but I will reach the end by choosing to move forward. Consistently.

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“Practically Perfect in Every Way” -Mary Poppins

BrookCagle

PC: Brook Cagle

NOT.

I’ve done some pretty ridiculous things over the years that some might call dumb. Or silly. Or crazy.

One time, when I was leaving Sevilla, Spain to travel on to Tel Aviv, Israel I HAD to get to the Spanish post office to ship a suitcase home to the USA the night before I left Europe. So with about 2 minutes till the post office closed, I ran through the city, brandishing a sword in front of me that I bought in Toledo, Spain, which I also had to ship and had no box for, dragging a 60lb suitcase behind me that didn’t even have wheels. Spaniards thought I was a crazy American, ducking and tripping out of my way as I yelled “!Perdoname!” through crowds with the sword in front, suitcase bumping along in tow praying there was a line at the post office and it would be open late.

Another time, when I lived in Southern California, I pulled off the freeway to the exit on my way home. Waiting for traffic to slow down, so I could merge and join them, I inched forward with my car. As I looked left to make sure it was safe to merge, a man who was homeless, dehydrated, and in need of hospital care stumbled across the intersection and collapsed on my car. A homeless man on my car in the middle of an intersection! I didn’t know what to do.

Another day more recently, I ran bra-less through town trying to find a present for a bridal shower that started in two hours. I didn’t have a bra because it had been about 5 weeks that I had done laundry. So I had to buy a new bra, and a present, and pretend like I didn’t have a hangover as I showed up a flustered mess wearing the previous nights makeup to this shower. Oh yeah, and I arrived an hour late to the party because I got lost on my way. Even though I had GPS and it was in my hometown.

I’ve crossed lines with people and relationships, started things that I can’t finish, and wondered what the heck am I doing with my life most of the time.

And while this has been going on, I’ve smiled and laughed, and even had fun, not realizing the problem till after the fact, only then asking God for help to deal with my heart as I’ve felt guilty to the world around me in my mistakes.

During one such prayer, it occurred to me that at least part of what I’ve been dealing with is why Jesus called the Pharisees “hypocrites” in Mathew 23:27. They were more concerned about their image than their own hearts and souls. And like them, I prayed that God would protect my image and reputation… that was my biggest worry in the moment.

So then I realized not only do I choose sin, let people walk all over me, but also the cherry on top, I’ve been a hypocrite too worried more about my image than anything else! Wow. Praise the Lord I have any friends at all after some of my ups and downs.

But the beauty is, I DO have friends. Some really great ones that sprinkle truth, encouragement, and understanding for the decisions I make. And through it all I’ve been learning about myself– that I’m not as strong as I think I am. That sometimes I’m a hot mess. And that I’ve been putting myself in a box with what I think I want in life.

Beyond that though, I’ve been learning about God– that He is faithful, doing WORK in me to answer some pretty major heart prayers. That He has me right where He wants me at this point in life. Mostly I’ve been learning alllll about His grace and mercy.

You see what is grace and mercy without sin? Grace and mercy mean everything because of sin, not in spite of it.

In years past when I’ve messed up, I’ve wallowed in it, living in guilt like a rat in a sewer afraid to come out to the light of day.

But not this time. I realize now that I live in a sinful world and it is inevitable that I will find myself messing up. And it isn’t tragic to the point of wallowing away like sewer rats. It’s human. I am human as you are, and that is why we need a Deity to come down to the crap that humanity has made the world, to rescue us, and to pull us out. We need a God. And the God who calls me His daughter was and is willing to do just that! With all of His grace and all of His mercy…

How AMAZING that my Best Friend since I was 5 years old when I asked Jesus to come save me, is even better than the friends I call up, text, or grab a drink with to talk about the latest life lessons! With Jesus, I don’t have to explain myself. I get to bring my depressing, crappy issues to His feet- that He immediately, no questions asked, begins to Build, Restore, Teach, Edify, Encourage, and the Laugh with me about.

I’m honored and humbled that He loves me that much. That He shows me my blind spots in real life situations. That this weekend, or last, or the one before that are not where my life ends, but are building blocks to the next season. And His heart is all about restoring me back to Himself for His own glory. I have the faith of a mustard seed to move on- chasing rainbows, dreams, and promises that He’ll fulfill saturated with grace and mercy flowing down.

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

I don’t have all the answers, but that is the whole point in not being perfect. I’m not supposed to have all the answers. God tests us, He lets us choose paths, He lets us make decisions, He opens doors at the right times, and He redeems the messes we make, if we let Him.

Sometimes I spill coffee on myself in the car. Or bite my nails when I’m nervous. Or buy new bras because all of my current ones are dirty. And even as a 25 year old grown woman, I broke a vase of my mom’s and tried to hide it. But I realize when I let go of trying to be perfect, He can finally work and reveal to me the truth of who I really am– a forgiven daughter of the King. The bottom line is: I’m not perfect and I’m done trying to live some image of myself who tries to be. So in choosing not to be perfect by my standards, I am FINALLY allowing Him to move in me with all of His.

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Philippians 3:12).

{Q&A} Lauren Takes Study Abroad to a Master Level

I was bit hard by the travel bug when I studied abroad 3x in my undergrad days. But when I found out my dear friend Lauren, whom I met in Spain 5 years ago on one of these trips, was going to get her Masters in Columbia I was inspired by her love for adventure. She took study abroad to another level and learned everything from how Colombian’s put cheese in their hot chocolate to how medical interpretation is a way to help native Spanish speakers.

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1) What school are you at in Columbia? Why did you choose that school?

I am in grad school at Universidad de La Sabana. It’s a peaceful, well accredited campus right on the outskirts of Bogotá, Colombia. I would mostly say God is the reason I ended up there.

2) What are you studying exactly?

I am studying “Pan-hispanic Linguistics” which is the fancy term for diving into the different dialects of Spanish spoken around the world in a certain pluralistic and inclusive approach. The extensive geography of Spanish speakers around the world calls for a certain tolerance and respect for those with different dialects. Without going too deep into the politics of things, basically Spain is not the norm to follow for “correct” Spanish, but rather each country has their own norms and nuances that should be equally accepted. This is a new direction of thought, but it is changing the politics of the language in beautiful ways.

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3) For your thesis, what was the process of deciding that different Spanish dialects could be an issue for medical translation?

I saw the issue of medical interpretation between different dialects of Spanish and American English while I was an intern at the Colombian Medical Academy… There are essentially endless amounts of Spanish dialects once you delve into the different regions, countries, cities, neighborhoods, and households of native speakers… Many countries in South and Central America are not up to the technological ease of access of info we have in the states. Since the vernacular greatly varies, we are doing a disservice to patients when we try to fit them into one box of Spanish speakers.

4) What do you hope to accomplish in the future with your new degree? Where do you see your Spanish medical translation taking you?

There is something very special about bridging the gap between cultures and languages that I absolutely cannot get enough of and I simply want to be an advocate for those who may struggle getting that help due to the language barrier. So for me, it’s simply an empathetic intention to serve others by relaying information between different languages. That is the kind of stuff that gets me excited.

As far as where I see this taking me, with more experience I would love to participate in mission trips or programs such as doctors without borders to help interpret in predominately Spanish-speaking countries.

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5) Were you surprised by anything you learned during your 2 years abroad?

I was surprised by how I learned things. Though I think general knowledge is great, I loved being able to dive deeper into different aspects of the Spanish language, pragmatics, dialects, and so much more. I remember times when I would get teary eyed because I truly was so moved and excited about what I was learning!

There were a few surprising cultural things as well: people will not eat wings if they do not have plastic gloves on; they love cheese and put it on almost everything (even in hot chocolate) there are so many holidays, sometimes 3 a month; it is normal for people to interrupt someone being helped in line to get help faster.

6) Did you live with a family of other students? How did living with a family help your adjustment to Colombia?

I lived with a family my first year in Colombia and with other students my second year.

Living with a family definitely was a blessing in my adjustment because I got to learn some of the nuances with Colombian Spanish, cultural habits, and how to navigate in a big new city. The lady who owned the home was maybe 5 feet tall and 100% a firecracker who skipped lines and spent a long time getting ready. I got to try many authentic Colombian dishes while living with the family. Home cooked meals are always the best. The family I stayed with was my first community so I leaned on them a lot.

After being more established, I moved into a cheap place with 2 other girls I met at school in my program. I missed living with a family in a squeaky clean apartment, but I also enjoyed more independence living on my own.

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7) What was your biggest struggle in moving to a new country and culture?

Community, connectedness, and patience in the process were my biggest struggles in the beginning. I lived abroad in Spain for 5 months so the culture shock process was not foreign to me. First you love everything, then you feel kind of sad and homesick, then you start to adjust. I do not put it lightly that I deeply struggled at first and often called my mom asking her what in the world was I thinking. What made that adjusting period the hardest was my lack of community at first. Before moving I felt bold and courageous for going to a place where nobody knew me, but whether it was a dose of humility or not, I quickly realized, shoot, I want people around and I don’t have to be courageous and bold all of the time. I struggled with not knowing anyone more than I thought I would, because I didn’t have anyone in my same frame of reference to relate my struggles with.

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8) What is one way that your relationship with God has grown during this time?

Anytime I am out of my comfort zone God seems to feel more present in my life; it’s part of the reason I seek to be uncomfortable. I don’t like getting so settled and forgetting about leaning on God. Columbia was an amazing experience, but sometimes a lonely one as well. I had to invite God back into the role of being my best friend, my redeemer, and my strength.

I started practicing grace and forgiveness towards myself for little and big things. I tried to not worry so much about how my day would unfold, how exciting it would be, how unique it would feel, and I focused on living. I am still working on this last part (that seems to be a tough one for me!).

I am pretty good at being alone, but sometimes I just want people around. I think God showed me that my life won’t always be full of solo time, so it’s good to soak it up and learn about myself. I guess you could say I really tried to slow down and invite God into the nooks and crannies of my soul—some needed to be dusted off and shined, and some needed to be reorganized, but the beauty of cherishing alone time (even if it was too much sometimes) and inviting God into even the most simple days helped me grow stronger and closer to Him.

Talking to a Boy Friend about Boyfriends

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It was late. I was tired. And after an hour-long phone conversation with a guy friend the other night I ended up crying myself to sleep. They were tears of frustration and tears of self-pity at my sad situation of singleness.

Until the next morning, when I got kind of pissed.

The guy I was talking to on the phone is a friend of about 10 years. We’ve had our ups and downs with friendship, but for the most part have remained close and current relationships have always been a main topic of conversation for the two of us.

This boy friend is happily dating right now… so when he asked me about my status of dating or not I laughed saying, “Haha, you know me, my life has been pretty dry in that area for a while… of course I’m always talking to someone, but it never lasts.”

He responded by asking, “Why is that? Is it because you have things you need to work through with dating? Or is it because you’re talking to the wrong guys?”

I didn’t realize why in the moment, but I was a little hurt by the question. At that point we had been talking for a good 30 minutes about him. I asked him all about his work, family, selling his car, buying a house, his girlfriend… and when it came to me, the first thing he asked was about my dating life. And when I responded, “I don’t really have one right now” he wanted to get to the root of the problem as to why not.

This got me feeling sorry for myself. It made me think of my “lack” that I’m missing something. That I am messing up with boys and friends. That I can’t get a boyfriend. So we talked.

Eventually, we hung up joking in a fight over whether or not I was drunk over one glass of wine. (I hadn’t eaten dinner, and had a glass of wine. He said I’m a lightweight and that I sounded drunk on the phone, even though I hadn’t even finished drinking the glass. No way was I drunk! Haha.)

Soon after I hung up, the laughter stopped as I replayed his question over in my head and literally cried myself to sleep about my singleness. Like a relationship is the most important thing for a Christian girl, and I must be missing something, and it’s my fault for not having one.

Then. The next morning. I realized something.

WHO CARES!?

Not ONCE in our phone convo did he ask me about anything except for my relationship status. He didn’t ask about work, my career, if I should job search other places, should I go to grad school, where I want to move next, the fact that I’m raising money for human trafficking victims through a triathlon this summer…

When it came to my life it was all about the lack of male companionship.

I think I’m doing some pretty cool $hit without a guy thank you very much. And there are SO many more important conversations to be had other than, “so why are you single again?”

And in a state of self-pity, I went with the conversation. I didn’t think to bring up all the cool things I have done/ am doing/ mulling over/ considering next with my life.

Boys, friends, and boyfriends. Of course that’s an interesting conversation with anyone. Who are you dating? What happened to that one guy? Etc. But it seems like that’s the main topic of conversation people care about, especially for Christian women. People in the church seem to get so excited about a woman’s new potential mate, but when it comes to her job search, promotion, or latest mission trip… those conversations don’t go very far.

Listen. There is nothing wrong with boyfriends and husbands. We do need male companionship, male energy, and male leadership in our lives. Those relationships ARE important. But that’s not why we exist as women. And after crying myself to sleep, it wasn’t till the next morning that I FINALLY came to realize: there is no lack. I’m not lacking anything at this point in my life.

1 Corinthians 7:32-35 says, “I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.”

Right now, I need to remain faithful to the role God has called me to as I start my career off. Right now in life, I’m not in a place for a deep and intimate relationship with a boyfriend. I’m not the kind of girl to go chase a guy down, and even if I had a boyfriend, it would turn into a disaster! I would end up neglecting the guy because of my passion for work and raising awareness for human trafficking victims. Not to mention blog/ writing ideas and the potential for grad school!

This life that God has given me, my conversations, and my pursuits can be deep, full, and interesting. And my life doesn’t need to revolve around boyfriends.

Single ladies out there. Remain faithful to your calling. And at God’s direction the right guy will come. You are not lacking anything. Please don’t let people “fix” your singleness like it’s a problem because it’s not. And don’t chase guys down for the sake of other people or status. Instead, be brave and share the beauty of the cool things that are going on in your life- know that you are so much more than a relationship status!

Snow. Ski. Little Bro Bro.

Story through video is one of the best! (I may be a bit biased though as a Producer).

This quick edit shows my first day out this season skiing with my little brother- though you don’t see how dang cold we were, nor the sibling rivalry fight, or good convos that made it all worth it!!!

But that’s why I love Producing so much! I get to remember my day like this video and ignore the fact that my toes were purple by nightfall! I hope someone out there is inspired to take up skiing if they haven’t already. One of the best ways to wait out the winter months!